Nonclassical trajectories in head-on collisions

A. Kumar1,2, T. Krisnanda2, P. Arumugam1, and T. Paterek2,3,4

1Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee 247667, India
2School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 637371, Singapore
3Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics, Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Informatics, University of Gdańsk, 80-308 Gdańsk, Poland
4MajuLab, International Joint Research Unit UMI 3654, CNRS, Université Côte d’Azur, Sorbonne Université, National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University

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Rutherford scattering is usually described by treating the projectile either classically or as quantum mechanical plane waves. Here we treat them as wave packets and study their head-on collisions with the stationary target nuclei. We simulate the quantum dynamics of this one-dimensional system and study deviations of the average quantum solution from the classical one. These deviations are traced back to the convexity properties of Coulomb potential. Finally, we sketch how these theoretical findings could be tested in experiments looking for the onset of nuclear reactions.

The unavoidable existence of a finite momentum variance implies that quantum mechanical wave packets cannot be stopped completely. Therefore the situations where classical particles stop, like head-on collisions, are natural candidates to probe the emergence of nonclassicality. We demonstrate this phenomenon in the paradigmatic Rutherford scattering experiment.

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Cited by

[1] A. Kumar, T. Krisnanda, P. Arumugam, and T. Paterek, "Closest approach of a quantum projectile", Journal of Physics Conference Series 1850 1, 012074 (2021).

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